Second Act: Starting a New Career in Nursing
Most of us will have multiple careers in our lifetimes, and some of us are even making a major switch with our career and moving to a new industry. Today, more and more people are finding that second career in nursing.
For many, nursing represents not only a solid, stable career in a fast-growing field, but also the opportunity to do work that makes a difference. It also means you have to go back to school, and that can be a daunting prospect.
Last year, Kate Frkovich decided to take the plunge. After 10 years working as a probation parole agent with the state of Wisconsin, Kate felt that it was time for a change. She recently enrolled in the Accelerated BSN program at Herzing University’s Brookfield campus.
We sat down with Kate to talk about what it’s like to be in an ABSN program and what she’s enjoying most about her “second act” as a nursing student.
1. Why did you choose a career in nursing?
I appreciated my job as a parole agent, but I felt like I could do more to help my community. I considered law school and even took the LSAT. I was looking for a way to make a difference, and I wanted to find a degree program that would provide a good return on my investment. In the end, I decided law school was not the right choice for me.
I chose nursing for a variety of reasons. I felt that a nursing degree was a smart decision because healthcare is a growing field and it would give me a chance to work with brilliant people, as well as help my community. I knew a career in nursing would be very rewarding.
2. Was it hard to transition from your career to nursing school?
I was nervous at first. I obtained my philosophy degree from UW Madison in 2003, so I hadn’t taken a science course in years. I thought that medicine and healthcare was a door that had closed for me a long time ago. Herzing not only unlocked that door, they opened it for me. They showed me it was possible to succeed in a BSN program and pursue a career I am passionate about.
I took the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) test and I did really well. I even received the Herzing Nurses Circle of Achievement Scholarship because I scored so highly. It has been a smoother transition than I expected.
3. What have you enjoyed the most about the ABSN program?
My head is swimming with science! My brain is drinking it all in. My professors have us engaging with material in many different ways. We learn about science and then write about what we have learned in assessments and labs. There is no “cramming” material and therefore I believe I have obtained a mastery over the material not possible at a larger school. This alone will make me a better nurse.
I also believe I am a strong writer and I’m able to leverage that skill in the lab and other assessments because they’re research-based. This type of learning is helpful for those who already do have degrees, especially a liberal arts degree. Critical thinking and research experience help when learning hard science materials. I have not had the chance to approach education like this before and it has made a world of difference for me.
4. How has your prior work and education experience helped you in this program?
Juggling work and school is its own challenge. Time management, access to academic resources and prioritizing education were all things I struggled with as a younger person. As a professional, you learn that a deadline is a deadline. Perfection may not be as important as completing the task. Being a returning student has made me a more conscientious student. I make lists. I use a calendar. I write for the purpose of clarity.
5. Do you have any advice for others who are looking to make a change in their career?
Nothing changes if nothing changes. If you do the same thing, you’re going to get the same result. I understand not wanting to leap before you look – that is a solid instinct. Herzing is a practical choice. They are absolutely clear about the process, cost and timeline.
I had anxiety about making a switch, but I wanted to bet on myself. Herzing showed me how to do it. Now, my life is on a new path and I am growing even more confident in my decision to pursue my BSN. My previous wanderings are valued by the professors and school administrators. I am proud of myself for the first time in 15 years.
I never imagined that becoming a nurse was possible, and I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity!